Conditioning for Outdoor Enthusiasts over 50

Restore balance and coordination for any age or ability level.
Courtenay Schurman Courtenay Schurman
June 09, 2015
Conditioning for Outdoor Enthusiasts over 50

As an outdoor enthusiast nearing fifty, I’ve noticed my balance and coordination aren’t what they used to be several decades ago. Both of these are important for hiking, climbing, backpacking, trekking, skiing, and mountaineering. Try this exercise to help restore balance and coordination for any age or ability level.

The Warrior Reverse Flye for Balance 

The Warrior Reverse Flye is a hybrid exercise that combines a common yoga pose, Warrior III, with dumbbell strengthening exercises known as the reverse flye and one-legged deadlift. 

It strengthens the muscles in the upper and lower back, legs, and hips. It also helps improve balance from feet to ankles to hips.

Try each movement separately, or combine them. This portable exercise can be done anywhere: home, gym, outdoors, or hotels. 

Try it yourself: 

1) Descent — Stand on one leg with the other foot behind you, lightly touching the floor for balance as needed. Hold light dumbbells in each hand. Reach both weights down toward the floor. Your goal is to reach the floor with both hands at the same time, though beginners can aim for knees, shins or ankles, or start without weight.

2) Ascent — As you rise back up from the floor, extend the trailing leg behind you and tilt your torso parallel to the floor like an ice skater. Raise both arms out to the sides to form a "T", keeping palms facing the floor and squeezing shoulder blades together, neck relaxed and shoulders away from the ears, to work the upper back. 

Start with the leg is hardest to perform and only complete on the dominant leg as many as you can do on the non-dominant leg.

Complete two to three sets of eight to ten repetitions on each leg with 30 seconds of rest between legs. Include at the beginning of your strength workout when you are fresh.

Tips for the beginner: If you struggle to find your balance, try the exercise in bare feet or on an uncarpeted surface. Relax your feet and spread your toes so you have more surface area in contact with the floor. 

Try keeping the trail leg lightly touching the floor until your balance improves. You can also hold onto a dowel or wall. 

Simply standing on one leg for 30 seconds or longer can help you improve balance if the other options do not work.

Tips for the advanced: If you have decent starting balance but struggle to get horizontal in warrior, aim for maintaining a straight body but with a diagonal torso so arms are higher than legs.

You can increase range of motion in the one-legged deadlift by standing on a weight plate or board, still reaching for the floor. 

You may want to increase strength in the glutes by adding more weight to the one-legged deadlift before adding the reverse flye.

This article originally appeared in our May/June 2014 issue of Mountaineer magazine. To view the original article in magazine form and read more stories from our bi-monthly publication, click here. For more how-to exercises and tips for the outdoor athlete and for over-50 mountaineers, visit Courtenay and Doug Schurman's website at or send Courtenay a question at


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